PRESIDENT Trump’s First Oval Office address; declares a ‘growing humanitarian and security crisis’ on the US – MEXICO border

President Donald Trump delivered a televised address Tuesday from the Oval Office about immigration and the southern border on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown.Carlos Barria / Pool via Reuters

President Donald Trump delivered a televised address Tuesday from the Oval Office about immigration and the southern border on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown.Carlos Barria / Pool via Reuters

CJR Editors jallsop@cjr.org via mailchimpapp.net|AIWA! NO!|Donald Trump’s first Oval Office address to the nation last night was, as many predicted in advance, driven by false and misleading claims. It was also, as many predicted in advance, dull and repetitious. The president did not declare a national emergency; rather, he cycled through his deck of familiar anti-immigration talking points, doubled down on his border-wall plans, and moved the needle not a jot on his deadlocked negotiations with congressional Democrats. As Adam Sneed, an editor at CityLab, tweeted, the address was “The national political equivalent of a meeting that could’ve been an email.”

READ RELATED: Scripted Trump does little to convince skeptics on border wall
 
Commentators who argued that the networks shouldn’t carry the address in the first place claimed its anticlimactic nature vindicated them. “The networks interrupted their entertainment fare for the lamest rerun on national television: Trump’s immigration talking points,” The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple tweeted. “Shame on you, networks,” CUNY’s Jeff Jarvis added, “Shame on you.” And Pod Save America’s Dan Pfeiffer channeled many on the left when he said, “The networks got played.” Proponents of airing, including network bosses, don’t agree—the decision to go live, as the Post’s Sarah Ellison and Paul Farhi report, was less a bet on the likely content of the speech than a reflection of its newsworthy timing on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown. As with its message on immigration, when it comes to the debate over airing Trump’s lies, it’s unlikely the address changed too many minds last night.
 
I wrote yesterday that, with that debate ongoing, the focus should turn to networks’ plans to handle Trump’s words. Not a single one CJR’s staff saw offered an on-screen fact check in real time last night. Anchors and pundits did wrap reality around the address. Beforehand, for example, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow fact-checked—and logic-checked—the president’s typical immigration rhetoric, separating it into falsehoods that would make sense if they were true and falsehoods that would not. After the address, CNN, whose panel included Toronto Star fact-checking maven Daniel Dale, ran chyrons contrasting Trump’s statements and the facts under the typical punditry. And CNNCBS, and others ran live analysis on their websites. That’s all better than nothing. But more of an effort could have been made to put the truth right up on screen as Trump defied it. Doing so would have caught floating viewers who hopped over for the address, and disrupted the flow of the narrative Trump built from false premises. And it would have been perfectly doable given how predictable and pat Trump’s lines were.
 
Nor was the fact-checking that did happen universally successful. The best way to rebut a lie remains open to debate. But the “Trump:… Fact:…” formula used by CNN, for example, is unduly balanced; it would be better to start the sentence “Trump misstated that…” or simply to state the truth without repeating the lie at all. In its real-time online fact-check last night, the Post’s team tried both those formulations in prominent subheadings such as “The trade deal does not pay for the wall” and “Most imported heroin comes through legal points of entry.” BuzzFeed went further still: rather than react to Trump’s claims, it selected and posted its own stream of facts about the border. Much of what we saw from the networks was less compelling: ABC’s on-air walking tour of its fact-checking department was, my colleague commented, “bad television.”
 
After Trump delivered his dud, Bill Carter, an analyst for CNN and former Times reporter, tweeted that networks would be wise to learn a lesson from last night; Carter suggests they should tell the White House, “That was a fraudulent request; forget asking for platform for your political posturing ever again.” Networks obviously aren’t going to take that advice. If that means they’ll have plenty more opportunities to try something different going forward, last night was not an encouraging sign of change.
 
Below, more on Trump’s address:

  • Did Trump get played? Part I: In an off-the-record lunch with television anchors yesterday, Trump made the extraordinary admission that he thought his address and subsequent visit to Texas (slated for tomorrow) would be a waste of time, the Times’s Peter Baker reports. “The trip was merely a photo opportunity, he said. ‘But,’ he added, gesturing at his communications aides Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kellyanne Conway, ‘these people behind you say it’s worth it.’”
     
  • Did Trump get played? Part II: In the run-up to his address, Trump leaned heavily on the advice of hardline Fox News boosters Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs, The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng, Spencer Ackerman, Lachlan Markay, and Maxwell Tani report. Hannity was busy spinning Trump’s address on Fox last night, repeatedly emphasizing deaths allegedly caused by undocumented immigrants.
     
  • Did viewers get played? Times TV critic James Poniewozik says viewers paid the price for the prime-time wall debate. “What there was not, after two days of media drama, was a convincing argument for why this needed to be a prime-time event at all,” Poniewozik writes. “There was no news. There was no new argument. There was just a wall of sound, and the American viewing audience paid for it.”
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AMERICAN POLITICS; MID-TERMS And President Trump: As rhetoric becomes reality, the media grapples with America’s hate

As rhetoric becomes reality, the media grapples with America’s hate

|JON ALLSOP, CJR|AIWA! NO!|AS THE TRUMP ERA HAS UNSPOOLED, Fox News has frequently received tough media scrutiny for amplifying administration attacks, including on the mainstream press. As a country and its media try to process a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue; the pipe bombs mailed to George Soros, CNN, and a clutch of senior Democrats; and the killing of two African-Americans in a Kentucky grocery store (by a white man who tried to enter a majority-black church moments earlier), a tipping point seems to have been reached. Financial Times US National Editor Edward Lucetweeted yesterday: “The most effective thing Americans can do is boycott companies that advertise on Fox. They bankroll the poison that goes from the studio into Trump’s head. The second is vote.”synagogue shooter

The origin of this renewed criticism dates to Thursday night, when Fox Business host Lou Dobbs interviewed Chris Farrell from the right-wing pressure group Judicial Watch. Farrell used his airtime to claim the “Soros-occupied State Department” has ties to the “caravan” of migrants making its way from Central America toward the US-Mexico border. As it broadcast, the segment largely escaped attention. It was a small part of a much larger narrative embraced by the Trump administration and its right-wing media boosters last week—a ploy to frame the upcoming midterms around anti-immigrant fear-mongering and the supposed malign influence of Soros, a worldwide lightning rod for anti-Semitic attacks.

ICYMI: Caravan coverage plays into Trump’s hands

The segment re-aired throughout the day on Saturday, both before and after Robert Bowers killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. The massacre drew fresh attention to Farrell’s remarks. Over the weekend, Fox took fresh heat for giving a platform to this type of speech, including from conservatives. “This repulsive and dangerous filth is bring [sic] spewed courtesy of a publicly owned corporation,” commentator Bill Kristol wrote in a tweetWashington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin asked: “Does Rupert Murdoch, who came to this country as an immigrant and made billions, have NO conscience?” (Fox apologized Sunday for re-airing the segment and said Farrell won’t be booked again.)

The instinct to deny hate a platform is a logical response to a week like the one just past. Luce’s boycott tweet drove at it, while on CNN’s Reliable Sources yesterday, host Brian Stelter refused to playthe Dobbs-Farrell clip because “I don’t want to give it more oxygen.”

As this past week’s string of tragedies shows, however, hate in America is way past rhetoric. That’s not to say the media should not reflect on its language when tackling topics like the migrant caravan: The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen and The Atlantic‘s Adam Serwer both wrote cogently in recent days that much of the mainstream press has given an inadvertent bullhorn to Trump, Fox, and others on that story. Nonetheless, as America wars with itself, the media must urgently reckon with how to report on an intensifying and obvious politics of hate. On this sad Monday morning, answers aren’t immediately in sight.

Below, more on the weekend’s all-consuming hate narrative:

  • A far-right rival to Twitter: The Daily Beast’s Will Sommerprofiles Gab, the right-wing social network that rose to prominence over the weekend. Gab went down on Sunday night, claiming it had been “systematically no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and several payment processors.” It vowed to resume operations soon.
  • Self-reflection time: Also in The Daily Beast, Matt Lewis,writing after the pipe bomb story but before the synagogue and grocery store shootings, said the media must honestly examine its own role in the hate gripping the US. “Cable news is frequently a shout-fest that brings more heat than light—more passion than illumination,” he argues.
  • Another scare: Staff at Albany TV station WNYT were evacuated Sunday after a bomb scare. They later returned to work.
  • “We knew it could happen here”: Pittsburgh Post-GazetteExecutive Editor David Shribman has a moving write-through of Saturday’s synagogue attack in the city: “We knew it could happen here—any here, anywhere—when we learned that nine people were killed three years ago in the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. We knew it could happen here—any here, anywhere—when we learned that six were killed in the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City last year. Now we know it can happen here, as anywhere, because it has.”
  • Beyond our borders: Far-right demagogue Jair Bolsonaro, who has attacked the press as well as a number of minority groups, was yesterday elected president of Brazil. The Intercept’s Andrew Fishman has a striking quote from Monica Iozzi, the former anchor of a political humor program who “said they interviewed [Bolsonaro] multiple times ‘so people could see the very low level of the representatives we were electing,’” but now “regrets having given him airtime.”

US Secret Service, FBI examining bomb-like devices sent to Obama, Clinton, CNN, others

Secret Service, FBI examining bomb-like devices sent to Obama, Clinton, CNN, others

Police stand outside the Time Warner Center after a suspicious package was found inside the CNN headquarters in New York City on Wednesday. Photo by Louis Lanzano/UPI | License Photo

Clyde Hughes(UPI)|AIWA! NO!| — The U.S. Secret Service said Wednesday suspicious packages with what appeared to be live explosive devices were sent to addresses of former President Barack ObamaHillary Clinton and CNN.The agency said said it recovered a package addressed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at her home with former President Bill Clinton in Westchester County, N.Y.

“We are fine, thanks to the men and women of the Secret Service who intercepted the package addressed to us long before it made its way to our home,” Hillary Clinton said at an event Wednesday in Miami.

A package addressed to Obama was intercepted in Washington, D.C., where the former president lives.

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“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such,” the Secret Service said. “Both packages were intercepted prior to being delivered to their intended location. The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.”

A suspicious device also was found addressed to CNN in the mail room at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan where the news network has offices. Law enforcement evacuated the building.

The cable network said the package also may have included a white powder-like substance.

RELATED Suspicious letter claiming ricin sent to Maine home of Sen. Susan Collins

“What we saw here today was an effort to terrorize,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference early Wednesday afternoon. “This was clearly an act of terror.”

U.S.A – More than 20 million people watched Kavanaugh hearing

It’s likely that more than the 20.4 million people reported by Nielsen on Friday watched it. The company was counting average viewership on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. Figures weren’t immediately available for other networks that showed it, including PBS, C-SPAN and the Fox Business Network.

Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford

Image copyright GETTY IMAGES Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford both gave evidence on Thursday

NEW YORK — More than 20 million people watched Thursday’s gripping testimony by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who accused him of a sexual assault that allegedly occurred in the 1980s, Christine Blasey Ford, on six television networks.

Meanwhile, the political standoff continued, with broadcasters interrupting regular programming for Friday’s last-minute twist: an agreement engineered by Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake for the FBI to conduct a one-week investigation of the charges.

At a combative hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, he denied the allegations and pledged never to give up. It followed testimony from Doctor Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist who said an assault by Mr Kavanaugh 36 years ago had “drastically” affected her life.The committee must now vote on his confirmation, which will then go to the full Senate.

Why does this matter?

If Mr Kavanaugh is confirmed he could tilt the balance of the Supreme Court in favour of Republicans for decades. Judges hold the position for life and the nine-member court has the final say on US law, including on contentious social issues and challenges to government policy. This is why Mr Kavanaugh’s record came under immediate scrutiny when he was nominated by President Trump in July. A letter by Dr Ford then emerged in which she made claims of sexual assault against him.

Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she’s 100 percent certain that Kavanaugh groped her drunkenly and tried to take off her clothes at a high school party. Kavanaugh, in impassioned testimony, said he’s 100 percent certain that it didn’t happen.

It’s likely that more than the 20.4 million people reported by Nielsen on Friday watched it. The company was counting average viewership on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. Figures weren’t immediately available for other networks that showed it, including PBS, C-SPAN and the Fox Business Network. And Nielsen usually has some trouble measuring people who watch in offices.

To put that in perspective, that’s an audience size similar to that for a playoff football game or the Academy Awards.

Fox News Channel, whose opinion hosts have strongly backed Kavanaugh’s appointment, led all networks with an average of 5.69 million viewers during the all-day hearing, Nielsen said.

ABC was second with 3.26 million viewers. CBS had 3.1 million, NBC had 2.94 million, MSNBC had 2.89 million and CNN had 2.52 million, Nielsen said.

Interest remained high after the hearing. Nielsen said 11.8 million people watched cable shows hosted by Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow or Chris Cuomo at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, which likely put a dent in viewership for the fall premieres of broadcast network prime-time shows.

Flake was the central figure in Friday’s drama. After the moderate Republican’s office issued a statement that he would be voting in favor of Kavanaugh, he was caught by CNN and CBS cameras Friday morning being shouted at by protesters as he tried to ride an elevator to a Judiciary Committee hearing.

He stood with eyes downcast for several minutes as he was berated, televised live on CNN. “I’m standing right here in front of you,” one woman said. “Do you think he’s telling the truth to the country?”

He was told, “you have power when so many women are powerless.”

Flake said that his office had issued a statement and said, before the elevator closed, that he would have more to say at the committee hearing.

The cable and broadcast networks were all covering live hours later, when the Judiciary Committee was to vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate for a vote. But Flake said he would only do so with the understanding that the FBI would look into the allegations against the nominee for the next week, which minority Democrats have been urging.

Flake’s words had power, because it was evident Republicans would not have the votes to approve Kavanaugh without the investigation.

Israel blasts CNN’s coverage: ‘Stop your manipulation’

CNN reversed order of deaths in Hamas attack, ‘manipulating’ news item to make it appear that Israel struck first, says Foreign Ministry.palestine

The Israeli Foreign Ministry chastised the Cable News Network (CNN) over the weekend, after the network released a news brief which appeared to reverse the order of events in the latest clashes between Israel and the Hamas terror organization.

On Friday, terrorists operating out of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip opened fire on Israeli soldiers stationed on the border, killing 20-year-old Givati Brigade Staff Sergeant Aviv Levi.

In response to the terror attack, Israeli fighter jets pounded Hamas positions inside the Gaza Strip, hitting roughly 60 different terror targets in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave. A day later, Gaza-based terrorists breached the Israeli border fence, prompting the IDF to shell a Hamas observation post in the Strip.gaza life

But a news brief by CNN International on Saturday presented the events in reverse order, and made no mention that the Israeli airstrikes had been in direct response to the Hamas attack.

“Israel says one of its tanks targeted a Hamas military post in Gaza Saturday in retaliation for a border fence breach, one day after violence that left four Palestinians, including three Hamas militants, and an Israeli soldier dead,” CNN International wrote.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded via Twitter to the CNNnews brief, accusing the media outlet of “manipulation”.

“No @cnni !!! You got it wrong and not for the first time – an Israeli soldier was killed by #Hamas and #IDF retaliated, protecting its country and citizens against murderous terrorists. By misrepresenting the facts you manipulate against #Israel! @cnni- STOP YOUR MANIPULATION !”

While CNN made no official response to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Nahshon vowed that the ministry would confront media agencies which “deliberately distort events taking place in Israel,” Nahshon told Yediot Ahronot.

“We will respond to every distorted headline and demand its immediate correction.”